Zach LaVine exits protocols thankful for health, Bulls' record


LaVine exits protocols thankful for health, team record originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Don't try to compare Zach LaVine's two bouts with COVID-19.

Last season, LaVine, in his words, "was sick" and watched the Bulls' chance at a mere play-in berth fade away as the team amassed a 4-7 record without him.

This season, LaVine was asymptomatic to the point he continued working out in quarantine. And - thanks to three postponements - he only missed two games as the Chicago Bulls wrestled with a team-wide outbreak.

The Bulls won them both as DeMar DeRozan averaged 32 points, keeping them solidly in second place in the Eastern Conference.

"Yeah, we got a little extra break. Hopefully we have herd immunity coming back and we won't have any more guys go down in the later months," LaVine said following Thursday's practice at the Advocate Center. "I'm just thankful everybody is OK and everybody's families are OK. Now we can get things rolling again as a full group."

LaVine was in great spirits following his second day of work at the practice facility. The Bulls' next scheduled game is Sunday at home versus the Indiana Pacers.

LaVine spent his time in quarantine at a hotel to keep his wife safe, playing video games and watching Netflix and game film. DeRozan's performances drew rave reviews.

"That was one of the most impressive things I've seen because I remember coming back off of COVID last year and it took me a couple games to get into it," LaVine said. "I know he had a couple practices. But he was having a solid game (against the Lakers), and then the fourth quarter, he just went bonkers.

"Dude is incredible, man. I got high standards for myself, but there are certain things you just gotta tip your hat to. I called him afterwards and was like, 'Man that was incredible.' It's who he is."

DeRozan said following the Lakers' victory that he texted LaVine to hurry back.

"Yeah, he said he doesn't want to do that all the time," LaVine said, smiling. "I felt the same way when I called him after that Miami game. I said, 'Look, man, I've gone through this before. I don't want to do this.'"

That's a nod to the days that LaVine had to carry the Bulls' offense. That no longer is the case. Between DeRozan, Nikola Vučević, the all-around contributions of Lonzo Ball plus multiple role players making contributions, the Bulls are rolling.

That fact, plus the fact LaVine only missed two games rather than 11 like last season, offered him some solace during quarantine.

"My family is OK. That's all I was worried about," LaVine said. "It's frustrating. But it's the world we're living in now. A lot of guys and teams are dealing with it. I'm just thankful I only missed two games."

LaVine said he actually gained six pounds during quarantine from working out and not having to play games. He said the time off helped his body.

"What was easier about it was I knew what to expect. And I didn't have any symptoms so that helped," he said. "Just the isolation sucks. I was away from my wife, away from my family. I got out of my house just to keep her safe. I was at a hotel playing video games and watching Netflix every day.

"But it is what it is. We've been playing really good throughout the whole season. We had this bump in the road and it really didn't affect us the way it could've. So I'm thankful for that."

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